The Cool Interview: Don Bosco

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I first met Don at AFCC and we’ve been chatting on-and-off ever since. He’s the guy behind Super Cool Books (which does so many fun things – check out its website), and is also the author of the Sherlock Hong Adventures series and Lion City Adventures (which has just been nominated for the Popular Readers’ Choice Awards 2015).

don2He’s full of creative inspiration not only on the writing front, but also in navigating the sometimes murky world of book publishing. Am glad to have my first ever sort-of interview on my sort-of work blog to spread sprinkles of positive energy for those feeling a little lost with the writing business. See? There are people like Don who just do their own thang.

Hi Don, can you tell us how Super Cool Books came to be in a rap?

Maybe I was a fool
but I thought it would be cool
to make books with my sons
and that’s how we beguns.

 We grew and we grew
and the next thing we knew
we had to get serious
and treat this like a business.

 But we still want to have funs,
‘cos that’s how we beguns
so we shine like a thousand suns
to bring joy to the little ones.

What’s working at Super Cool Books like?

Very free and easy. Like a slacker indie music collective. Things seem to work best when we focus on having fun and being creative and don’t push too hard to make anything happen. Mostly I just hang around my home studio, listen to music, reply to messages, and read and write stories.

Once in a while, I’ll make a list of things that really need doing, and then go through our contact list and see who’s the best person to get involved. For the creative stuff, I work with all sorts of freelancers, from writers to illustrators, designers and editors, to keep growing the catalogue of stories. They’re based all around the world. Many of them have day jobs at some big publishing house or media brand, and I guess Super Cool Books is like a quirky hobby to them. Which works great. We collaborate over the Internet. Basically I can just sit at my kitchen table and get stuff done.

For the business side, like distribution and marketing and licensing and stuff, we’re lucky to have experienced partners in different sectors and they help me understand how things are supposed to work. There are also a few social media ninjas that I use now and then, they optimise our stuff for the internet.

We also have a Super Cool Books iPad ebookstore. It’s pretty modest right now, and I often get asked to open it up and sell books from other publishers and authors. So that looks like it might be the big organisational change coming up, having to hire someone to manage this properly.

What is the coolest reader feedback you’ve received?

“My daughter absolutely loves your books. She reads them over and over and she wants to meet the characters in the story.”

For most of my life, I treated writing as a way to be creative, as a way to earn money, as way to be respected. And that was it. But through Super Cool Books, I’m learning that my stories can help parents connect with their children, and also inspire young girls and boys to read more, and help them have fun imagining new worlds based on Asian cultures and myths. I’m realising that fun is actually such a precious commodity.

What will Super Cool Books be doing in 2016?

I’m launching a new horror / thriller / mystery imprint for teens, and testing this through our iPad ebookstore. 2016 will look quite different, there’ll be a more diverse mix of titles.

Recently I started a community project called 100 WRITERS. Basically my goal is to encourage and help 100 or more writers get their stuff published. We have some meet-ups and networking events pencilled in for next year, mostly partnering with other writing and creative circlesin Singapore. I’ve already been getting enthusiastic emails from writers about this, and I hope we don’t disappoint anyone.

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I’m also scheduled to write more books for the Sherlock Hong and Lion City Adventures series. So many new ideas and story twists to try out. My brain is close to exploding!

Any cool advice for emo writerly types in an “I suck” rut?

You know, I think that for the past 20 or so years, the Internet was built by the tech people, and they did an awesome job, but the emotional and expressive side was seriously lacking. Now that all this technology is already in place, we’re entering the emotional age of the Internet, which explains the rise of all these indie content creators on YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Kindle etc. coming in to share dreams and connect through highly personal stories. Hang in there, trust your dreams, and keep collaborating with people who appreciate what you do. Visit the Super Cool Books website and see if there’s anything that inspires you. Feel free to drop me a line if you have questions or need help. I might know someone who knows someone and then something awesome will happen.

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Look out for Don’s upcoming book Secrets of the Heartlands coming this Christmas!

Incidentally, Don interviewed me a few months back as well. You can read it here.

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